You may have read my article about a VP of Sales who failed to deliver an authentic message about her company’s new CRM system. She felt like she’d lost respect and control when she wasn’t consulted on the decision to purchase the new system. She felt like her turf had been stepped on and this paralyzed her from evaluating the new system without bias. You’ve probably found yourself in a similar situation. Overcoming your personal resistance to a change is not easy. But, it is possible.
1. Understand your impulses
As a leader, you probably have visceral responses to organizational change. You’re heavily invested in your business. Change is uncertain and can feel threatening. Leaders often have an inclination to resist change. It’s natural. It can be easy to dismiss change without considering the bright side and potential advantages of change. But your resistance to change has a big effect on others, no matter how hard you try to mask it. As Christina Fong, Principal Lecturer at the University of Washington, has explained, “[Your coworkers] are not just mindless automatons. They think about the emotions they see and care whether they are sincere or manipulative.”
2. Think before you act
Before rashly dismissing change, first try to reframe your perspectives on change. In working with the VP of Sales, I helped her appreciate that the new CRM offered a lot of potential. Specifically, with its automatic data capture functionalities, the new system would help her team reduce manual data entry. This would result in hours of additional time each week to focus on selling rather than mundane data entry. After listening openly to the alternative perspective, she changed her stance. And she went on to be a powerful change agent, triggering a ripple effect among employees.
3. Change the message
Despite your best efforts to change your perspectives, you might fundamentally disagree with the messages you are responsible for delivering. In these cases, it’s in your best interest to change the message rather than to act in a disingenuous manner. As Warren Bennis, who is widely regarded as a pioneer of the contemporary field of leadership studies, reminds us, “Trust is the lubrication that makes it possible for organizations to work.”
As a HR Executive, I’m able to help my clients diagnose and assess their feelings about the messages they are responsible for delivering. Using self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and other training, I’m able to help my clients learn to recognize and accept their feelings and how they will impact the messages they deliver. As Harvard University professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter explains, “Diagnosing the sources of resistance is the first step toward good solutions."
I care deeply about helping leaders and advancing the human resources profession. I have authored two books, The Art of Executive Coaching and Stress-less Leadership, and maintain a regular blog. I am also a leading contributor for The Society For Human Resources Management, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Association of Talent Development.
As an active animal advocate, I donate 100% of all book proceeds to animal welfare.
The opinions in this article are my own, and do not reflect those of my publishers or employers.